November 10 I Saturday
“Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock.” —Genesis 4:20
The first three chapters of Genesis describe the creation of the world and humanity’s fall into sin. This is followed in Genesis 4 by Cain, the eldest son of Adam and Eve, killing his brother Abel. Next is a genealogy of the first few generations after Cain. Three sons are listed in the seventh generation, each famous for certain
practices. The first is Jabal, “the father of those who live in tents,” which would make him the first to migrate from place to place.
It is often when we are on the move, taken from our normal environment, that God will speak to us most clearly. Scripture tells of many people who began to listen with fresh ears and gain new insights after God removed them from their normal environment. For example, when God called Abraham from his homeland in Ur, He did not reveal the details of His covenant with Abraham until he left what was familiar and arrived in Canaan. Many believers experience a similar openness to the voice of God when they are taken outside their comfort zones. We are often more deeply affected by the Gospel when we start at a new church, attend a conference or retreat, or move to a new city or country. The same Gospel may be preached in these new locations as back home,
but it lands with fresh force because we are away
from what is familiar.
When we pull up stakes and leave familiar ground, we start to think freely and freshly. There are risks to this, but also the potential for great spiritual growth. For example, when young people who have grown up in Christian homes leave home to attend college or university, many walk away from Christianity. These young people have been schooled all their lives to know about Jesus, but if they have not come into a personal relationship with Him, they may quickly jettison their faith as they discover new ways of thinking. Yet this unfamiliar atmosphere also makes university campuses some of the most effective areas for evangelism.
Students are hungry for knowledge and truth, and God often uses this time in a new environment to reach out to searching souls.
As the father of those who live in tents, Jabal serves as a spiritual precedent for the value of stepping out of the familiar. Away from our normal environment, we are more prone to think freshly, to hear God’s voice and to act on what He says. Whenever we find ourselves somewhere new, may we keep our hearts and ears open to hearing whatever message He has for us.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, anywhere unfamiliar to me is totally familiar to You. Thank You that when I step outside my comfort zone, You speak in new and fresh ways.